Drakensberg Hiking Trails
Royal Natal National Park hiking trails
Amphitheatre to Cathedral
4 to 5 days (62kms) The route passes parts of the Drakensberg including
the Amphitheatre, Mbundini, Mnweni and The Rockeries, The Saddle and
The Cathedral range.
Devil's Hoek Valley
A fairly easy hike of 1hr(3km) The path gets progressively steeper and
the views more spectacular. Royal Natal National Park. The route takes
you from the Tugela River Carpark along the the Tugela Valley and then
up the Devil's Hoek tributary
Mckinley's Pool, Gudu Falls, The Grotto
Moderate distances, the route is well marked and fairly easy to hike
and explore. There are many clear rock pools where you could enjoy
a swim. Royal Natal National Park, numerous trails leading off from
the Mahai Campsite up the river valley to Mckinley's Pool.
Mont-Aux-Sources via Basutho Gate and The Chain Ladder
10hrs (20kms) The hike starts from the Mahai River Campsite, follows
the Mahai River Valley, passes the Witsieshoek Mountain Resort, to
the Sentinel carpark and up the Chain Ladder to the escarpment.
Otto's Walk & Bushman Paintings
An easy walk of 1hr (2kms) The path leads up the Sigubudu Valley to some
fine examples San rock paintings. Royal Natal National Park, begin
at the visitor's centre and takes you along the Tugela River and continues
towards the park gate.
Rugged Glen to Mahai
5-6hrs (14kms) Rugged Glen is a nature reserve connected by road to the
Sigubudu Ridge and Valley
A moderate hike of 4-5 hrs (12km) The path takes you through Protea Veld,
past Sunday Falls to Fairy Glen. Royal Natal National Park. This is
a round trip from Mahai Campsite via Sigubudu Valley.
A moderate hike of + 2 hrs (7km) The route goes through alternative stretches
of protea veld and forest, and the scenery beyond the gorge is rivaled
only by the view from the top of the Tugela Falls.
A fairly easy hike of 1hr. 45mins (4.3km) A rare species of protea, known
as protea nubigena has been found here. Royal Natal National Park.
Follow the same route as for Devil's Hoek Valley, but 1 km after turning
right at the junction leading up to Devil's Hoek, the Vemaan Path leads
off to the left over the Devil's Hoek River.
Hiking trails at Cathedral Peak
- Blue Pool and Nyosi Grotto
A easy 2 hrs or 5.5 kms hike
A short hike in the Cathedral Peak area, starting from the hotel and following
the Nyosi River southwards.
- Cathedral Peak Hike
An extreme 6 to 7 hrs hike - 10km.
A long arduous hike requiring a high level of fitness. Starts from Cathedral
Peak Hotel, up the path to the Cathedral Ridge. Rock scrambling is often
necessary due to rock slides on the gully below the peak.
- Contour Path - Cathedral Peak to Ndedema
A moderate to severe hike of 3 hours or 3.5 kms
A long hard hike. Starts at Cathedral Peak Hotel, up to contour path below
Cathedral range and follow it southwards. Hike passes underneath the main
escarpment and back down the Ndedema Gorge.
- Contour Path- Ndedema to Monk's Cowl
A moderate 2 day hike(27.5 kms)
A severe hike which starts at the contour path at the upper end of the
Ndedema Valley. This is reached via the solar cliffs path in the Cathedral
area, or via the Hikes' Pass route up to the contour path. The hike follows
the contour path southwards traversing the Mdedela Wilderness area.
- Ganabu Ridge and Baboon Rock
A severe 6 hr hike(15kms)
The hike starts on the Cathedral Peak route and then branches off to the
right, going down into the Nxwaye valley, up the Ganabu Ridge and down
- Mlambonja Pass to Twins Cave
A severe 6-8 hrs hike (11 kms)
From Cathedral Peak Hotel the path follows the river past the trout hatchery
and up to the top of the little berg above the mlambonja river. The pass
is consistently very steep and long.
- Mlambonja Valley (3)
A moderate 30 mins - 2 hrs hike (1,5 - 5,2 kms)
There are three hikes, the lower valley 1,5 km, neptunes pool 4,2 km and
marble baths 5,2 km. The Mlambonja Pass Route bypasses most of the lower
river valley. All hikes begin at the Cathedral Peak Hotel.
- Mushroom Rock
A fair 1 hr hike (2 kms)
This is a fairly steep hike, which leads up behind the hotel to a large
- Old Furrow Trail
There are displays along the route which makes the trail is convenient
for school groups. The trail gives views of the Bushman's River and wild
animals especially buck may be seen in the open grassland. Picnic sites
- Oqalweni Forest Walk
An easy 2 hrs hike (5.5 kms)
This route is ideal for hikers who prefer secluded outings. It starts from
the Cathedral Peak Hotel, past the trout hatchery and along the Oqalweni
River to a waterfall and pool.
- Oqalweni Valley
A moderate 5 hrs hike (16.5 kms)
This hike gives you a grand tour of the valley. The path passes through
a number of habitats. It starts at the Cathedral Peak path past Shermans
Cave, but takes the left fork of the contour path around the top of the
Oqalweni Valley and back down one tree hill.
- Rainbow Gorge
A fair 2 hrs hike (5.5 kms)
This is probably one of the most picturesque hikes in the area. From the
hotel skirt the base of Tryme Hill westwards, then eastwards on the path
into the gorge. Once in the gorge itself the path follows the river.
- Tarn and Tryme Hills
A hike of4 hrs (10 kms)
This half-day outing affords grand views of the escarpment and close up
encounters with some high spires and butresses, as well as the possibility
of exploring the forests around the available falls, all on the same stream,
a tributory of the Mhlonhlo River.
Cathedral Peak, Central Drakensberg.
- Tseketseke Camp Site
A moderate -severe 4 hrs hike (9.5 kms)
This hike takes one into the mountains directly below Cleft Peak which
dominates the area betweeen Cathedral Peak and Champagne Castle.
- Two Passes and Cleft Peak Escarpment Hike
An extreme 3 days hike (40 kms)
The route starts at the top of Mike's Pass near Cathedral Peak Hotel, up
the long ridge and the very steep Organ Pipes Pass. Traverse the escarpment
and descend via Mlambonja Pass. This hike is classified extreme and for
good reason. Not to be undertaken by the unfit or inexperienced. Mike's
Pass to Cathedral Peak Hotel via Organ Pipes.
Champagne Valley Hiking Trails
Blue Grotto: This is a great 3 hour moderate walk through an indigenous
forest onto a magnificent grotto with waterfall and pool. The hike starts
from in front of the Drakensberg Sun Time Share Units past the Time share
swimming pool. It is a well trodden path very suitable for the novice
hiker but nevertheless offering one of the most magnificient routes in the
Van Dames Cascades via the blue grotto: 5 Hour fairly strenuous.. Follow
the blue grotto route and just before the Blue Grotto take the steep path
to the left. You will wind upwards to a plateau and then the path will veer
right and you will then reach the fence of the World Heritage Site. Go through
the access point and wind upwards for a very steep and strenuous climb. When
reaching the top take the right path to Van Damms Cascades . The Path goes
onto Jacobs Ladder ( not a ladder but
a winding steep path)and the top of the Little Berg . The Left path can also
be taken for to the Steilberg access route where when reaching the Steilberg
path, you will have the option of turning left to the top of the Bergview
cottages and back to Drak Sun, or carrying on straight to Monks Cowl
gate ( a long walk) or going up the Steilberg to the top of the Little
Wonder Valley: Five hours + moderate. This secluded and beautiful
valley lies on the southern side of the Champagne Valley and is accessed
from the R 600 either starting at the road bend just below Champagne
Castle Hotel or just above the S Bends slightly above Falcon Ridge. This
is private property although access is allowed to the public. If starting
from Champagne Castle area follow the path from the top of the bend in the
follow the contour footpath along the Heritage Site fence. After
a long walk you will reach the valley and you will see one or 2 secluded
Heritage Walk: This easy 3 hour round walk starts at “The
in Dragon Peaks Park and can also be accessed from the other properties in
the area. However it does pass through private property and does enter the
World Heritage Site so entrance fees must be paid and you must be accompanied
by an approved guide. Walks generally commence most days at 9.00 am from
the Oaks Supermarket. The walk goes up the Sterkspruit River on into Bush
Reserve No 1 which is part of the World Heritage Site. Here you can see a
600 year old Yellow Wood tree and see the saw pits used by the early loggers.
Mooney’s pool is a nice stop off place with a small pool with
cascading water . The guide will then take you on to Dingaan’s
Cave where you can view some good examples of bushman rock art.
Cleo’s Pool:This is best approached from the top of Berghaven cottages
although it can also be accessed from the Heritage Walk route detailed above.
Take the well marked path from the top of Bergview moving southwards into
the valley. The path is very steep and you will eventually reach a stream
and Cleo’s pool. There is a small cave next to the stream which has
an interesting burial site in the right side of the cave. The burial
chamber was upright to cater for a body in a seated position and the remains
of a bushman type person were removed for research purposes in the
middle of the last Century but the stones of the grave can still be seen.
Monks Cowl Hiking Trails
Sterkspruit Falls: This moderate walk starts at the Monks Cowl entrance
. Take the well marked path down to the falls. 1 to 2 hours.
Robin Hood forest on to Crystal Falls. Take The Sphinx path. After a short
walk you will come to the turn off the forest and the fern forest. The Sphinx
path continues on to Crystal Falls. 2 to 3 hours.
Round Trip to Sterkspruit Falls, onto Nandies Falls and Back
to the Entrance. 3 to 4 hours. Take the path to Sterkspruit falls.
Before the falls turn up the river and follow the signs to Nandies Falls.
Spend some time at the rock pools on the way.
The Sphinx and onto Breakfast stream back via Kirtland’s Pass. Moderate
to Strenuous. + 6hours. This oft walked path takes you on to the top of the
Little Berg ( Breakfast Stream) . If you like you can then go on to Blind
Mans corner and the contour path. However unless you want to access the contour
path for further hikes there is no point in going all the way to the contour
path and a preferred option would be to turn off right before
Blind Mans Corner and return via Kirtland’s Pass. This less used
path offers a real wilderness experience winding down through a secluded
Giants Castle Hiking Trails
World's view From the picnic area take the concrete path
down to and across Bannerman Bridge. Follow the path to below Sugarloaf Kop
and on up to World's View. A moderate
3 hrs hike (7km)
Bannerman Hut A long hike from the Giant's Camp northwest along a clear path, with an early
start it is easy to make the hut by mid-morning. The hut must be booked through
KZN Nature Conservation Service.
Berg view a short hike from
the Giant's Castle Camp to a popular viewpoint, offering one of the best
views of the escarpment, ranging from Giant's Castle to Cathkin Peak. A
fair 2 hrs hike (5km)
Centenary Hut Injasuti. Follow the path Pastfergy's Cave
for 4kms t centenary of the contour path. A severe 5 hrs hike (10 km).
Champagne Pools a circular walk starting
1km from Giant's Castle main gate. Secluded pools for swimming and fishing. An
easy hike (4kms - 1.5 hrs)
Giant's Castle Pass The hike begins at Giant's Castle
Camp and continues up to the top of the little Berg, up the very steep
Giant's Pass. Not for the inexperienced. An extreme 4 hrs or 6km hike
(from Giants Hut)
Giant's Hut via Oribi Ridge An alternative
route to Giant's Hut just south of the two Dassies stream route. It starts
at the main Giant's Castle Camp, climbing steadily to the hut, which must
be booked. A severe 4 hrs hike (10.5km)
Grysbok Bush This hike, starting at Giant's Castle main
camp, takes you up the Bushman's River to the largest forest in the Giant's
Langalibalele Pass Follow the path from
the main Giant's Castle Camp past the main caves. The path is consistently
steep although the pass itself is one of the easiest and shortest in the
berg. Follow the path from the main Giant's Castle camp past the main caves. A
severe 3 hrs 30 min hike (6.5km)
Main Caves This hike leads from the camp,
along the river near the edge of a forest, up to the large caves, which are
crucial archaeological sites and have been turned into a museum showing the
Bushman's way of life. Tours are conducted throughout the year at set times
in the company of a field ranger. An easy 40min hike
Meander Hut There are two ways to get to this hut, which
overlooks the Meander Stream from its perch on top of the cliffs of the Little
Berg. The hut accommodates four people and it must be booked. A fair
hike. (5.5kms - 2hrs)
River Walk this pleasant stroll has no specific destination
and can join the forest walk for a most enjoyable ramble. An easy 1.5kms
- 30mins hike
Injasuti Hiking Trails
Battle Cave to Injasuti Cave This is a guided tour
of the battle cave where a pictorial display of bushman life In this valley
complete with a taped guide to the paintings are seen. One can stay for
a night at the Lower Injasuti Cave, but bookings must be made in advance
for both this and the Battle Cave tour. Trout fishing, hiking, swimming,
curios, charcoal, maps. A moderate 4 hrs hike (8.5km)
Grindstone Caves and Cataract Valley This hike begins at Injasuti camp and follows a circular route via Grindstone
Caves, the waterfalls and Cataract Valley. The path follows the Mhlwazini
River back to the camp. A moderate 4 hrs hike (13km)
Marble Baths From Injisuthi Camp follow the route to
Fergy's Cave but take he right fork along the Injisuthi River approximately
4kms from the start. You can overnight at the Marble Baths Cave. A moderate
hike. (8.5kms - 6hrs)
Old Kraal and Yellowwood Forest This is a short
walk in the vicinity of the camp. From the office at Injasuti take the
Cowl Stream fork. At the top of the incline turn left to the walls of the
old kraal. And shortly after that left again to the old woman stream. After
crossing the river turn left and follow the path back to camp. An
easy 1 hr hike (2.5km)
Spare Rib Cave
Injasuti. Proceed up Bannerman Pass from Bannerman Hut. The cave is near
the top of the escarpment on the left hand side. A severe 2 hrs hike
Van Heyningen's Pass to View Point This will serve as
a hikers' orientation with the surrounding landscapes and major peaks. A
moderate 3 hrs hike (8km)
Wildebeest Plateau This hike is perfect for a day's outing with opportunities to relax and swim,
and to observe the surroundings at leisure. A moderate 6 hrs hike (18km)
Great accommodation options for these local hiking trails
Guest House - Indeed a special find. One of those places
you wished you would have stayed longer where the accommodation, view,
location, service and food are just perfect. This is the nearest private
accommodation option near to Giants Castle and also offers one of the
best deals available.
Castle Camp - The upside is that you are inside Giants Castle
Nature Reserve. The downside is that you are inside Giants Castle Nature
Reserve. You are as close as you can be to starting the hiking trails
but far from any of the other attractions available. And the gate opening
and closing times make early starts and doing anything after sunset an
impossibility. If you do decide to stay here opt for the self catering
option and make sure you bring your own food with you. Giants Castle
camp offers self catering and has a restaurant.
Luxury cave lodge Experience something different and stay
in the only fully catered luxury cave in the Drakensberg
the luxury cave comes with a few special romantic options like a jacuzzi
spa bath and fireplace both in the bedroom. Whats more it opens onto
a deck with hammock chairs and a panoramic view not often experienced.
Guest Farm - While this guest house is a little further away
in the Champagne Valley it still a great option to stay when you visit
Giants Castle. Also centrally situated this guest house makes for a special
few days in the Drakensberg. Ardmore is especially suited to families
with units that can accommodate 6 persons.
Berry Guest Farm - A simple B&B situated on the Mooi River
/ Giants Castle road They only provide breakfast and there are not to
many good options where dinner is easily available. So cook your own
dinner when you stay at Wild Berry Guest Farm
Lovely self catering accommodation in the Kamberg Valley. Situated right
on the Little Mooi River this self catering resort offers trout fishing and
a nine hole golf course. The self catering accommodation is in thatched units.
Mountain Farm House - Prepare for some of the most fantastic
food you will ever eat. This farm house offers high class fine dining
near to Highmoor Nature Reserve. The rates are a pit on the pricy end
of the scale but hey you only ever live once. Especially if you are one
of those foodie types
Nature Reserve - Simple self catering challets in the Kamberg
Valley. Make sure you bring your own food as there is little available
nearby. Kamberg suffers the same issues as Giants Casle Camp with gate
opening times that make staying here sometimes inconvient. But if all
you want to do is stay in one place I cant imagine many better accommodation
Nature Reserve- This is one of the best camp site gems thats
available in the Drakensberg. There are also a few self catering challets
which are in need of repair and a chronic revamp.